North Essex Cricket League

The good and the bad of Sunday cricket was seen last weekend – with excellent weather, there was some standout cricket, however, the flip side saw four games conceded. On the field first and in Division One the records tumbled at Copdock, where the home side posted 324 for 3, with Sam Webb-Snowling posting an unbeaten 200. However, Colchester & E.E. recorded a league record run chase to win by five wickets with Taurai Muzurabani unbeaten on 142. Leaders Wivenhoe, were comfortable nine wicket winners at Galleywood. In Division Two, there was only one match, a top of the table game between Springfield and Halstead, which the visitors won by 4 wickets to leap frog their hosts in the table. In Division Three, Stebbing made it three from three with a home ten wicket win over Real Oddies, while West Bergholt began their campaign with a defeat at home to Boxted. The first T20 action of the season, saw Kelvedon emphatic winners over Braintree in the West Division.
Disappointingly and worryingly so early in the season, four games were conceded. In Division One, and probably most concerning, Elmstead conceded for the second time this season which resulted in a ten point deduction, although at least three of their players did turn out for Kelvedon in the T20. Clacton were the beneficiaries of the concession. In Division Two, Abberton conceded their trip to Witham, while Great Totham conceded to Chappel & Wakes Colne, although the clubs are looking at an alternative date for that one, so it is not recorded in the league table yet. Similarly, in Division Three, Coggeshall conceded to Great Horkesley & Lexden, but again the clubs are looking to re-arrange.
Individually, apart from the two daddy hundreds at Copdock, Springfield’s Charlie Prudence (113) posted his second century of the season in his sides defeat at home to Halstead, and Dan Wheeler (115no) posted a T20 century for Kelvedon. There was just one five wicket haul, coming from West Bergholt’s James Banks who returned 5 for 39 at home to Boxted.

Read more: Week 5 (May 20th) - Sam's Double in vain as Colchester complete record run chase

Heavy rain on Saturday afternoon, and throughout the evening saw the Sunday NECL Programme seriously threatened, despite the improving forecast on match day. However, out of the six matches scheduled it was just the two games in Division Two that were cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. Springfield with the six points for the cancellation move to the top of the division. In Division One, Wivenhoe bounced back emphatically from their defeat at Elmstead, with a 142 run win at Clacton. Matt Durrell and Brendan Louw both posting centuries in a mammoth Hoe total of 328 for 4. Three games in Division Three, saw Stebbing win their second game of the season, while favourites for honours Coggeshall and Kelvedon both opened up with tight away victories.

Read more: Week 4 (May 13th) Durrell and Louw go big in Wivenhoe win

Stunning weather for the early May Bank Holiday, saw five matches played on Sunday. The Division Two match between Abberton and Witham was cancelled and will be re-arranged to later in the season, due to Abberton’s involvement in the national Village Cup. The Division Three match between Coggeshall and Real Oddies, was also cancelled due to a downpour on Thursday which rendered the Earls Colne Airfield ground unplayable for the weekend. Again both sides are keen to get the game on, so it will be re-arranged for later in the season. The T20 game between Little Bardfield and Coggeshall on Monday, was also postponed – although NECL HQ did not receive that information until the day of the game – the game will be re-arranged.

On Sunday, there were wins in Division One for Galleywood and Mistley, in Division Two for Halstead and Springfield, and in Division Three for Stebbing. There were two centuries recorded this week with Callum O’Connell registering an unbeaten 100 for Mistley, and Charlie Prudence scoring 101 against Braintree, while Halstead youngster Taylor Nicholson just missed out with an unbeaten 96. Fifteen year old Ted Ashurst of Springfield returned the only fivefer of the weekend returning excellent figures of 5 for 14 in his sides victory.

Read more: Week 3 (May 6th) - Galleywood beat the early season leaders

The poor weather returned for the second week of the season, with all games called off. However, for Colchester & E.E. they did glean their first twenty point haul of the season, as after the excellent win the previous weekend, Elmstead were unable to raise eleven players and conceded on the eve of the game !
The other Division One match between Clacton and Copdock was cancelled, with both clubs taking up the league’s offer of looking for an alternative date later in the season. Similarly, the T20 West clash between Braintree and Galleywood is also to be re-arranged.

Read more: Week 2 (April 29th) - Poor weather wins the day !

Glorious weather in the week saw the 2018 NECL season finally get underway on Sunday, following cancellations of both the Colchester & E.E. versus Wivenhoe fixtures scheduled in the previous fortnight. The champions Wivenhoe, made the short journey to Elmstead for an intriguing derby.


Read more: Week 1 (April 22nd) - Champions defeated by ten man Elmstead

It was perhaps the toughest close season the NECL has endured in its 42 year history, with no less than nine teams withdrawing from the competition, which has seen the weekend league drop from 32 to 23 teams for the 2018 season.

A league restructure means that there will be just three divisions in 2018, with seven teams in Division One, and eight each in Division Two and Three. The points system is the main change for the season, with tables now being decided by total points rather than average points. In an effort to get more cricket on, points will also be awarded up to the point of abandonment.

The T20 competition will have ten teams again this season, with Galleywood replacing Great Bentley. Two groups of five will contest a round robin competition, with the top two from each group proceeding to Finals Day on 27th August at Castle Park.

The pre-season weather of a Siberian blast in March, followed by wet weather of biblical proportions has seen many ground staff scratching their heads as to how to get pitches and grounds prepared for the start of the season. Luckily, the Division Two and Three programme does not commence until the first week of May this year, but a number of Division One games in April are already at threat. However, with warmer weather scheduled for this week, it is hoped that the NECL season will get up and running at the weekend.

So in a pre-season tradition, where do I expect the silverware to be heading in 2018, and who are likely to struggle.

Read more: 2018 NECL Preview